Little Chef was founded in 1958 and was a familiar sight at the roadside for 60 years.

The chain was inspired by American diners and branches were often based near petrol stations and hotels.

Diners could pull in to tuck into an Olympic Breakfast, a big baguette or sample some Jubilee Pancakes.

If you want to take a trip down memory lane, its website and food menu are still online to browse.

At its peak, the chain had 439 restaurants but the brand began to decline in the early 2000s.

Dorset Echo: The breakfast at Little ChefThe breakfast at Little Chef

By 2005, half of its locations were closed.

The chain went into administration in 2007 and TV chef Heston Blumenthal attempted to revive the struggling brand by changing its menu.

Unprofitable and struggling restaurants were slowly closed down over the years.

Euro Garages purchased the business, but were later unable to use the Little Chef branding and more restaurants were either closed, rebranded or were taken on by other food chains.

Here's what happened to every Little Chef in the area since they all closed.


Dorset Echo: The former Little Chef in Shaftesbury. Picture: GoogleThe former Little Chef in Shaftesbury. Picture: Google

Based on the A350, this branch opened its doors for the first time in 1987.

Despite the roadside restaurant chain being rescued from closure by specialist turnaround group RCapital, this branch shut its doors in 2007.

It was placed on the market soon after the building closed down and later became a KFC.


Dorset Echo: This Little Chef is now a KFC. Picture: GoogleThis Little Chef is now a KFC. Picture: Google

Opened in the 1970s, this branch was based on the A35 in Somerford.

The restaurant enjoyed its links to large towns such as Christchurch and Bournemouth and served many hungry commuters and holidaymakers over the years.

The branch stopped trading by 2005 as it was deemed unprofitable and was unable to compete with neighbouring budget restaurants.

It also didn’t help that the Little Chef could only be directly accessed by southbound traffic, which made other more accessible restaurants a better option.

The site was demolished and made way for a KFC.

Winterbourne Abbas

Dorset Echo: The former Little Chef at Winterbourne Abbas, opposite the A35. Picture: GoogleThe former Little Chef at Winterbourne Abbas, opposite the A35. Picture: Google

Based on the A35 in Winterbourne Abbas near Dorchester, it was the longest serving branches in Dorset.

Owner Forte took over an existing roadside site in order to save time, money and construction costs.

Despite operating as a standalone site in a relatively rural area, Winterbourne Abbas proved to be a busy site.

The Little Chef was subject to multiple refits over the many decades, including a major refurbishment, with a similar design to the Wonderfully British and Heston Blumenthal refurbishments which occurred between 2008 and 2011.

However, trouble came in 2017 when forecourt giant, EG Group, purchased the Little Chef chain.

This transaction would result in the closure of all Little Chef restaurants across the country, due to EG's rights to the Little Chef brand expiring in January 2018.

Winterbourne Abbas was the first to close in February 2017, due to the lease nearing its expiration date and EG refusing to renew it.

The site is currently the home of a car dealership called Dorchester Collection.

Winterbourne Zelston, Bere Regis

Dorset Echo: The former Little Chef was a popular branch on the A31The former Little Chef was a popular branch on the A31

Little Chef was based on the A31 and was a welcome sight for many hungry travellers for more than 20 years.

The Red Post service area was originally home to a petrol filling station and a Happy Eater but when then owners Forte saw that Little Chef was the more lucrative brand, the restaurant was transformed into a Little Chef.

The branch made the headlines in March 2011 after armed robbers targeted the Little Chef and tied two staff members up during the raid.

Little Chef was joined by a Subway outlet in August 2014, but in the following years saw the demise of the Little Chef brand.

In 2017, Euro Garages took over the Little Chef chain and throughout the year, a majority of the restaurants were converted into brands such as Starbucks and Subway.

By January 2018, only half of the Little Chef restaurants remaining were converted, leaving around 35 to 40 Little Chefs still trading.

Dorset Echo: Police outside the raided Little Chef. Picture: Dorset EchoPolice outside the raided Little Chef. Picture: Dorset Echo

Euro Garages was unable to use the Little Chef name and instead created the EG Diner brand, and Bere Regis was one of the first of these to open.

But by Summer 2018, the EG Diner ceased trading and Subway remained open.

The site now boasts a micro Asda store with a Greggs and a Leon Coffee